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Vanity (Fair), Conflict, Dreams and Drama on an Ordinary Day at The Beastlet: On the Possibilities of Critical Pedagogies
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture, Critical Studies in Architecture.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6883-6387
2013 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The project brief called for a sanctuary for mythical creatures and visitor facilities in a rural landscape in southeast Sweden, with alternating assignments of collective and individual efforts, constantly negotiating positions within critical fictions. A group of master’s level architecture students adamantly refused their roles as “the architects” and insisted on designing their entire studio project in the guise of their imaginary humanimal counterparts, voicing a strong belief in the necessity to design from the positions of the residents of the proposed sanctuary, The Beastlet. This act and expression of dissent, allowed for all of the vanity, conflict, dreams and drama of everyday life to take up space and matter, within the individual proposals and the sanctuary as a whole.

During the Fall term of 2011, the Critical Studies Design Studio at KTH in Stockholm, Sweden, led by myself and my colleague Katarina Bonnevier, used fictional modes of writing and dialogical interventions as critical methodologies in two closely related studio projects, with the underlying theme ANIMALS. In the first course, Feminist Design Tools, the students developed fictive humanimal characters through fable writing, a series of design exercises and a folly- a small scale spatial “conversation piece”. The students were then asked to continue working with their characters in the second course, Dialogical Interventions, by collectively proposing a sanctuary for these mythical creatures. The intention of the animal theme and the use of fictive characters, based on a platform of feminist and queer theory, allowed the group to investigate notions such as normativity, ‘otherness’ and exclusion in a more direct way, by creating some distance between these notions and their direct relation to our human selves. Likewise, it encouraged, engaged and empowered the participants to reflect upon their own positions as students and as architects, and to actively make choices and demands in relation to their own learning environments and working methods.

This paper looks at the students’ interpretation and negotiation of the given project brief, which raised questions about perceived problems within the education and practice of architecture; specifically, normative notions and methodologies, practices of exclusion, and the legitimacy and ethics of speaking for others. Further, this paper reflects on the possibilities of critical pedagogies to transform practices of spatial production, and as feminist bell hooks writes in her trilogy on teaching, to establish an “education as the practice of freedom”, where the classroom, or in this case the studio, becomes a place of resistance to oppressive hierarchies and structures.Texts used within the studio course, such as Sara Ahmed’s The Phenomenology of Whiteness, Rosi Braidotti’s Nomadic Subjects and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling serve as theoretical references in discussing the students’ exploration of subjectivity, agency and the negotiation of positions through theatricality. In THIS critical fiction, a simulated article for Vanity Fair, the students’ characters speak directly from The Beastlet, while “the architect” plays the role of the evil counterpart.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Architecture
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-219384OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-219384DiVA, id: diva2:1162613
Conference
Rethinking the Social in Architecture- UMA, Umeå
Note

QC 20171212

Available from: 2017-12-04 Created: 2017-12-04 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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http://arch.umu.se/en/events/conferences-symposia/rethinking-the-social-in-architecture/

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